Brown & Toland Medical Group, San Francisco, said it received Federal Trade Commission approval to resume negotiating with health plans on behalf of physicians in the medical group's PPO network. The 1,500-physician independent practice association settled price-fixing charges without admitting guilt in 2004 after the FTC alleged that the IPA was not sufficiently clinically integrated to legally negotiate on behalf of physicians. In a news release, Brown & Toland President Gloria Austin said the IPA worked with the FTC to resolve the agency's concerns and enhanced clinical integration of its PPO network, including use of case management, electronic medical records, disease management programs and utilization review. Brown & Toland serves nearly 200,000 patients in northern California. "We have demonstrated the ability to improve care for our PPO patients," Austin said. FTC officials could not be reached for comment at deadline. The FTC will allow IPAs to negotiate for their physician members if the IPAs show improved quality or lower costs from demonstrated clinical or financial integration. -- by Mark Taylor
Calif. IPA gets go-ahead to negotiate with health plans
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